Monday, January 10, 2011

Slow Cooker Balsamic Braised Chicken

Snowmageddon 2011 has come and gone here in North Texas. We got about 2 inches of the fluffy white stuff here just north of Big D, but no ill effects like lots of ice or broken trees.

That said, I wasn't setting foot outside in the frigidity. So a dinner fo which we already had the ingredients on hand was necessary. And since nothing is better on a cold winter day than a braise, the slow cooker was in order.

Inspired by a recipe in Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever, here's what I came up with. It was delicious over steamed rice. And I'm betting will be even better when I take it for lunch at the office tomorrow.

Slow Cooker Balsamic Braised Chicken
Makes 6-8 servings.

6 strips bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
8-12 pieces chicken*
Salt and pepper (or garlic pepper)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar (Don't waste the good stuff. A decent quality brand from the grocery is fine.)
2 shallots, peeled (A small onion, sliced would work also.)
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (I actually used vegetable broth since that was the first can I grabbed out of the pantry.)

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Reserve bacon drippings in the pan.

Sprinkle the chicken pieces evenly with salt and pepper. Cook chicken in batches until browned, about 12 minutes. Set aside and keep warm while you cook the remaining chicken pieces. When completed, place the chicken in a slow cooker.

Add the rosemary, garlic and shallots to the pan. Cook over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the balsamic vinegar, making sure you scrape the bottom of the pan to get all of that yummy goodness. Pour contents of sauté pan over chicken in slow cooker.

Add broth to slow cooker and cover. Cook at low for 6 hours (high for 3 if you're in a hurry).

Serve with rice, potatoes or polenta. If you're feeling particularly decadent, sprinkle some of the reserved bacon on top.

*I used a bag of mixed pieces we had leftover from a chicken frying night. A few legs, couple of thighs and a breast. Use whatever is your favorite. If you're worried about fat, take the skin off. I don't like doing that...the skin adds to much flavor and texture. I just defat the dish after it's been in the fridge overnight. Braises are always better the second day.

Wine Pairing:This calls for a dusky, earthy, almost primitive red. We opened a delicious Sangiovese.

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